Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. We’ve got a round-up of all the Virginia news that’s been happening coming right up.
It’s official. Former Vice President Joe Biden announced he’s running for president on Thursday, releasing a video that focused heavily on the deadly Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and President Trump’s controversial comments afterwards. Biden is the 20th Democratic candidate to join the field and is an immediate frontrunner.
5 Things you need to know today…
- Richmond City Council spares Stoney’s education funding, but threatens a lawsuit — Following a contentious meeting of Richmond’s City Council on Monday, things only got worse on Wednesday. What began with the Council withdrawing their amendments and preserving Stoney’s $18 million education funding plan ended with six six members of the City Council voting to hire outside counsel, which could lead to a lawsuit against Stoney’s administration. The decision came after Stoney’s administration failed to certify up to $9 million in new revenue from surging property assessments and the collection of delinquent real estate taxes. The money would help the council balance the budget, a necessity now that they’ve opted to fund Richmond’s schools, but not raise the real estate tax rate. It’s unclear what will come next and the Council’s Vice President, Chris Hilbert, described the situation as a “crisis.”
- State Sen. Amanda Chase under fire for treatment of Capitol Police Officer — State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) is being accused of berating a Capitol Police officer who refused to let her park in a secure area near the Capitol in downtown Richmond. According to Capitol Police, Chase became angry when the officer told the senator she couldn’t park in the Bank Street pedestrian plaza without permission. Chase is also accused of referring to Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar as “Miss Piggy” while complaining about her parking privileges. Chase denied cursing, said she did not call Schaar Miss Piggy and accused the officer of making up commentary in her report.
- Virginia Courts exempt themselves from internal records requests — The Virginia Supreme Court issued new rules that will allow Virginia court officials to forego making their internal records public. The court says the goal is to protect Virginia’s separation of the judiciary from the state’s legislative and executive branches in order to support “reasonable and responsible transparency.” Most court case files remain open, but the new rules say the public can’t see files such as the administrative records of judges and magistrates, written communications between court staff, and any electronic records used to create and issue court orders. The rules were criticized by Del. Mike Mullin (D-Newport News) for their reach and the way they shield information about the court system’s financial and administrative records.
- Virginia Congressman becomes first to endorse 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg — U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Virginia) became the first member of Congress to endorse 2020 Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg. “Mayor Pete,” as he’s affectionately known, has risen in the polls in recent weeks thanks to frequent media appearances and strong interviews. Beyer admits he was initially skeptical of Buttigieg’s presidential bid, but has been won over by his background, experiences and his ability to communicate. Beyer even compared Buttigieg to former President Obama, who he endorsed in early 2007. Buttigieg will swing through Virginia in June, but it’s unclear if he’ll make a stop in Beyer’s Northern Virginia district.
- Virginia sees boom in capital investment under Northam – Virginia has gained$15.8 billion in capital investment through economic development in the 16 months since Gov. Ralph Northam came into office. The one catch is that $7.4 billion of that money came from 25 publicly unannounced projects that did not want to be identified. Most of these projects involved investments in data centers, which have been a shot in the arm for Virginia’s economy, but have also raised questions about tax breaks for the companies behind them. Additionally, according to figures from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, during Northam’s time in office, the state has seen economic development deals that are expected to produce 48,000 new jobs in the state.